Today, a part-time employee innocently mentioned his plan to put aside the maximum FSA election and use the monies to fund his health insurance premiums. It makes all the sense in the world–except that the IRS doesn’t allow it. As I explained this to him, I had the distinct displeasure of upsetting his plans and ruining his day. I did offer several suggestions that might mitigate his circumstances, which made the moment slightly less painful, at least for me.
I love working in HR, but I didn’t love my job very much during that conversation. In case you’re an employee and you’re wondering: yes, HR does care about you in these situations. And no, HR doesn’t enjoy being the bearer of bad news.
It is not fun to say: I’m sorry but….
- Insurance laws don’t allow adding your parents, brother or grandmother to your health insurance.
- We selected another candidate for the interview/position/promotion.
- Insurance premiums have increased again. Here are the new rates.
- The Workers’ Comp carrier has denied your claim.
- Your request doesn’t meet our retirement plan’s criteria for a hardship withdrawal.
- You can only enroll in our health insurance mid-year without a change-of-status event.
As I compiled the above list, I noticed most of the situations relate to employee benefits. Between the inherent limitations (financial and regulatory) and the natural transactional nature of benefits administration, it’s not on my short list of favorites. If I never had to deal with benefits and the rigmarole accompanying them, I would be a happy HR camper. And in fact, I am a happy camper most of the time since my HR Rockstar Coordinator, Stacey, now administers our benefits. I would much rather spend my time in areas of HR that allow me to say, “Yes!” “Yes, we can do that.” “That’s not a problem at all.” “Let’s see how we can make this work.”
I would rather spend my time identifying, recruiting and developing talent. Or developing creative programs uniquely designed for our workforce. Or learning technology that would better enhance employee systems. Or cultivating relationships with other HR professionals or building connections with other organizations.
What about you? What do you love and hate about your HR job? What bores you, drains you, energizes you, brings you joy and gratification?
photo by cpalmieri